48 Thoughts On 48 Games

While the deal gets ratified, mediator Scot Beckenbaugh gets feted some more and we await the formal announcement of the league’s schedule, Senators players can ditch their Big Rig practice swag and we can finally stop using the qualifier – "if a season is played".

Since Elliotte Friedman was the first one to nail down a 48 game season, here's our homage to 30 Thoughts, a pro-rated Senators season preview:

1. Ottawa was 4th in the conference after 48 games in 2011/12, with 58 points, teams 5-8 in the East each had 55 points.

2. Cowen []

3. All the "season's too long" hobby-horse people will finally get a look at an alternative.

4. Concerns about reaching the salary floor are no more. What had been a 54.3M$ minimum spend is now a 44M$ cap-floor in the first two years of the CBA. Had that not changed the Senators would have been 2.3M$ shy with three roster spots to fill.

5. Probably a tall order this year, but Craig Anderson needs just 29W's to be 2nd all-time in career Senators wins. It is a rich goaltending history the Sens have.

6. With no pre-season there can be no Bochenski Award winner.

7. But teams might be playing their AHL affiliates in lieu?

8. Last week, James Mirtle crunched the numbers on a 48 game season that ran to May 1. Specifically what the games per week would look like, coming out with 3.26 on average, which is just slightly up from 3.05 a team in a normal regular season. By comparison the NBA's 66 game compressed schedule last year worked out to 3.9 games per week.

9. And while the NBA isn't the NHL, their compressed schedule doesn't appear to have led to an increased player injury rate (while conclusions on severe injury rates were unclear). Although scoring rates and pace both dropped

10. Chris Johnson has reported talk of an April 5th trade deadline, which would be in line with what happened in 94/95.

11. Daniel Alfredsson.

12. The captain will score point number 1100 during an "Alfie" countdown. (6thSens guarantee)

13. Is this his last season? Yes. No. Maybe. But it’s too early to start worrying about that.

14. The rumoured expansion to a 20 team postseason ain't happening this year, and maybe ever. Good.

15. Will also be interesting to see how much the draft lottery weighting has changed, and as a consequence the incentives to "tank".

16. Zack Smith still has one-year left on his current $700K contract, but after signing a four-year, $7.55 million contract extension this off-season, he still needs to prove to the team that last season was not a fluke. Last year Smith fought, played physical, contributed offensively (7th in goals), killed penalties for 2+ minutes a night, and drew more penalties than they took. Hopefully he can be that guy (and more) for the Senators the next few seasons.

17. Regin played 10 games last year, and four in the Swiss league this lockout. His promising 2009/10 seems a long time ago right now. Saying this is a pivotal time in his career seems an understatement. *knock on shoulders*

18. Erik Condra played well defensively last season, leading Sens forwards in PK TOI and blocked shots, and chipping in with 25 points. Despite that, he didn't exactly weave his way into the hearts and imagination of Sens fans, mainly due to his inability to bury chances. Still a useful player even if his German junior and second division scoring prowess doesn't find its way back to NA.

19. Ottawa was the 2nd most penalized team in the league last year, averaging 14PIM a game. They trimmed some of the worst offenders in that category over the summer; Carkner, Konopka and Foligno all elsewhere now. Will be interesting to watch how much team discipline improves.

20. And for the times they are in the box, who exactly is going to pick up the bulk of the shorthanded minutes on defence? Kuba and Cowen were 1 and 2 in shorthanded minutes per game last year. Phillips and Lundin now the first option? 

21. Will MacLean now begin using EK on the PK for more than 30 seconds a game?

22. Senators were 29th in shots against last year. And honestly, right now it feels like 28th is too high a goal to shoot for.

23. Your concerns with Ottawa’s blue line are justified – each and every one of them. Despite having a projected top six that is slated to be the eleventh-most expensive blue line in the NHL at $20.498 million (it accounts for 40.806-percent of their payroll and that is without accounting for the promotion of two current Binghamton Senators defencemen), the depth and talent for this group is modest – which says something considering the group boasts the reigning Norris Trophy winner.

24. When the puck drops on opening night, the Senators will feature three new defensive pairings from last season. MacLean will not have the luxury of using a defensive tandem that they can rely on heavily to help shoulder the load while everyone gets back into game shape and adjusts to their new partner. In a lockout shortened season, these chemistry and experience factors could be fatal.

25. Exactly how much value Methot can provide is an open question. At times he's been a strong shut-down defender, but was struggling playing third line minutes last season (some of which you can chalk up to injury). In Ottawa he's now a critical piece, and needs to play like it.

26. Some joke that it’s not hard to simply give the rock to Karlsson and let him do his thing, but in the event that Methot has difficulty gelling with his new partner, the alternatives leave something to be desired.

27. Not sure we're excited to see Mike Lundin play, but considering he's slated to miss at least a week's of games recovering from a broken finger, imagine many will be eager to see his understated defensive game.

28. Unless the organization falls out of the playoff picture down the road, we're a believer that whatever diminished returns the Senators could fetch for Gonchar probably would not outweigh what the veteran can bring to the table in the interim. His puck-moving and power play abilities are still valuable assets.

29. Minus "Sarge" the blue-line would be without four of its top five points per 60m players from last season.

30. Of course, this blog is a proponent of anything that does not lend itself to the possibility of Wade Redden and his “best first pass in the NHL” returning to the organization anytime soon. With the inclusion of two amnestied contracts per organization, We pledge that any public lobbying for Wade Redden’s return to the nation’s capital will be met with a proportionate amount of mockery.

31. Speaking of blasts from the pasts, remember Mattias Karlsson? The former 08-09 AHL all-star remembers Ottawa, "When you have a season like that, lots of points, being selected for the All-Star Game.. not getting a single game in the NHL shows that they don't believe in you", he told HockeySverige.se in a recent interview. Nowadays one of the best SEL defencemen, the thought of a Karlsson-Karlsson pairing is a nice one. Moreso out of respect for Bob Cole than for actual hockey reasons, of course.) With the "CRISIS ON DEFENCE" these are the pie in the sky ideas we are forced to write about.

32. UFA d-man list is slim pickings. Campoli on a one-year anyone?

33. Is it too much to think Silfverberg could pot 20 goals in 48 games? Probably. Yashin, Daigle, Alfie, Eaves the only Sens to hit 20 as rookies.

34. Is booing Rick Nash when he comes to town gonna be a thing now? Cause that would be sad.

35. Keen to see how Wiercioch/Boro look in camp.

36. How equally back-to-backs and three in fours are divied will probably be another bone of contention. The Senators certainly were vocal about voicing their displeasure with the number of meetings vs. Toronto last year on back-to-backs.

37. Wonder if we'll see any complaints on the ice at SBP with more games per week, and the ongoing 67's residency.

38. Think the only thing the NHL can get away with painting on the ice this go around is #assmode.

39. Seems likely we'll see a record rate of games going to overtime league-wide.

40. This is just anecdotal, but it seems like compared to the rest of the league Ottawa had more players than average playing competitive games during the lockout. Advantage Senators?

41. Zibanejad got eight games at the NHL level last year, and with the tumult in his season to date, you have to wonder how many he'll get this year.

42. Assuming Anderson remains the #1, having Lehner back him up for 35-40 games probably isn't ideal for his development. The fact he's on a two-way and Bishop is not, might just be a blessing in disguise.

43. Ottawa had the ninth least number of man games lost to injury last season. Between their top-six forwards, top-four d-men and #1 goalie they lost a combined 43 man games. Craig Anderson sliced his hand up real good and you could still say the team as a whole was lucky. Already they're down 48 with Cowen alone. 

44. Luongo has his share of critics, but the guy has been an excellent regular season goalie. If the much rumoured Canucks-Leafs deal goes down, the division immediately becomes more competitve.

45. This team isn't a "contender", so taking a step back and missing the playoffs would be far from a disaster. It's a short season, teams can (and will) get hot and cold like that. The draft is strong and another high-ish pick wouldn't hurt.

46. Last year this blog tracked scoring chances for each game, and you can expect the same this year. Also gonna make a concerted effort to track zone entries, hold us to that readers.

47. Bryan Murray speaking on October 18, 2012 – "You can have a partial season, but there's always some question if that was a legitimate champion that particular year."  When Ottawa inevitably wins the cup this year which media member is going to turn this around on Bryan?

48. How many times will we hear "Varldens Basta Karlsson" at SBP?

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